Dying and Becoming
by Charles Weber
In this article the writer backtracks somewhat from a blithe assumption of Western Wisdom Teachings and takes up a midpoint position that may be more accessible and encouraging to the doctrinally mainstream Christian. It is hoped that this mediation might also fortify the New Age believer who knows his own convictions but may have some difficulty in rationalizing them. When does the revelation of Christ-centered truth cease? Was it once and for all time delivered, and now, in the fallow, post-Golgotha aftermath, do the semantic shards from that glorious fallout glint in the reliquary of gospel scripture as the sole bequest of Christian truth? But what about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which the Christ sends to teach us all things, and bring all things to our remembrance (John 14:16-17; 15:26)?
"I have many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now" (John 16:12). Pray, when? "Now" was two thousand years ago. If, in 30 A.D. Jerusalem, there were more things to know than were dreamed of in the current philosophies, when does one awaken from the dream and know these "things"? I submit that one major "thing" was intimated while the Christ Being was still living in the body of Jesus, and this revelation has, for approximately one century, been threatening to unravel the synthetic garment of canonical Christian cloth.
"Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets" (Matt 16:13-14). On what assumption does the question, and, far more, His disciples' response, draw if not an implicit familiarization with the law of successive lives? Of course this text can be ingeniously explained as meaning other than what it truly signifies, vindicating the dogma that repudiates such an heretical thought. But heretical to whom? To the Teacher Himself? As incarnate Truth, did He not have an obligation to clearly dispatch such nonsense? That He could have pre-existed as one of the earlier prophets? He let pass their response because it was founded on an accepted and real metaphysical dynamic.
After the Baptist was imprisoned, the same occult truth is intimated: Who is John the Baptist? What a silly question, right? He's John the Baptist, a prophet. But when did he first prophesy? Hundreds of years before the Incarnation Ä as Elijah. "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.... And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." Elias? The individuality that later invested the Baptist's body? Surely this can be explained without invoking the dread concept of reincarnation (cf. Luke 1:17). And you may be sure many worthy wits have been pressed into this service. But then what is to be made of the deeply telling statement immediately following Christ Jesus' disclosure: "He that has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt 11:7-15)? This is the formulaic challenge for what the listener may find obscure, offensive, or threatening. As it is said in another context, " This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" (John 6:60)
Coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration, His three disciples ask Jesus about the Baptist, who has just appeared as Elijah: "Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? [Jesus:] I say unto you that Elias is come already, and they knew him not [naturally!], but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.... Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist" (Matt 17:10-13).
Again, "his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2) When had this man time and place to sin if he was born blind? Did he sin in his mother's womb? His congenital blindness was the consequence of a prior moral obliquity. In rush the alarmed exegetes to work interpretative wonders, seeking to obviate the obvious: For here is a direct allusion to an extension of the law "as ye sow, so shall ye reap." The field for the working out of the law of cause and effect now encompasses successive lives. Oh, perish the thought.
So do we further burden the intelligent soul already oppressed by a faith freighted with a mandated nescience because it is disabused of the opportunity to exercise its God-given power of reason. Heaven forbid that it might then better account for the myriad inequities of birth and circumstance, which apparent injustices, finding no satisfactory explanation, lead many persons to postulate a punishing God, or none at all. Is this a matter of spiritual blindness? That having eyes for the evident, we are prejudiced against the hidden (spiritual) truth and see not? Christ Jesus called the Pharisees "blind guides" (Matt 23:16). We pray with Paul that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened (Eph 1:18), that our minds be no longer blinded, since the vail to the Holy of Holies is rent (Matt 27:51), done away in Christ (II Cor 3:14), and we are enabled to understand. (We are able to enter into the innermost sanctum, where the Holy Spirit speaks to "whomsoever will.") God wills to be known by His sons. He has given them the means to discern His ways: "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searchest all things, yea, the deep things of God" (II Cor 2:10).
Man, made in the image and likeness of his Creator, is, like Him, a Spirit, and becomes transformed by the renewing of his mind, which opens to spiritual worlds, where he lives and moves and experiences his real being. Our quandaries are self-imposed. Our Kingdom is not of this world. To make tawdry kingdoms here, in the belief that this is all we have got, is disheartening, dis-spiriting, and mindless. We are here to learn how not to be here, to use the lessons provided by material existence in order to transcend it.
Christ Jesus had a tough time among the pundits of His day. And the prodigious apparatus of two millenia of accumulated dogma stands no less opaque and implacable. Truth? What is truth? asks Pilate. No answer. "If I told you, you would not understand" is Christ's tacit response. But He does tell us. Do we understand? It does not call for faith. It calls for common sense. And the overcoming of a profound fear. And the dismissal of a false humility unbecoming a son of God. And it calls for the desire to confirm the Reality of a just and ineffably beneficient God. For else one faces inscrutable conumdrums that require the scholastic contortions of well- meaning sophistry and a despairing capitulation to an abused faith. A painful irony is at work here. A primary law of physics regarded as inviolable in the material world becomes tentative or inapplicable in the superphysical domain: No cause without effect; no action without reaction. Such an extension would make for a wonderful demonstration of theodicy.
Under the law of cause and effect, extended for the duration of our earthly pilgrimage, life becomes scrupulously fair. Each is his own judge and jury. Talk about liberation theology! What could be more liberating? One's every thought, word and deed is its own verdict. We sow wheat or weed, to corruption or salvation. Actually, Scripture sets up the rules, but is construed as limiting their application and logical inferences: To each shall be rendered according to his rendering (Rom 2:6). With what measure you mete, so shall it be meted unto you (Matt 7:1). By thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned Ä by thy own person (Matt 12:36-37). A just criticism of our current penal policy is that we merely incarcerate, we do not rehabilitate. How about the prison of the physical body, the hell of an unregenerate life? Does God just jail us in our worldly forms and deeds or does He offer a program for rehabilitation? The program is called the development of Christ consciousness. Does this not exonerate God from an imputation of unseemly vengeance. Vengeance comes to us because we initiate it, and we must experience life as what we are. We punish ourselves with our mistakes. We also learn. Live by the sword and perish by it. Love without ceasing and Christ irradiates the soul with peace and joy.
Does this antiquate Grace? God forbid(s it). Rather are we no longer servants of the flesh but sons and heirs of God (Gall 4:7). Is Christ any less the Way, the Truth, and the Life now that man is more accountable for being what he is? More so. More approachable, emulable, liveable. We are to participate more consciously and concertedly in our salvation, because we consent to it, choose it and daily plant and reap toward the consummation of a mystic wedding. If we walk in the Way, then we too shall know the Immaculate Conception, wherein the Christed consciousness shall be born of the virgin soul fructified by the spiritualized mind. As Angelus Silesius expresses the mystic birth, "Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, And not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn." This mystery is the crux of Paul's message, "The mystery which has been withheld from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory... that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Col 1:26-28).
If the Church shepherds can not lead their flocks to green pasture and still water, the lambs will go to the wolves (Acts 20:29), or get smart fast. What is it to "be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph 4:23)? What is it to no longer have "the understanding darkened" (Eph 4:18)? "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:16-17). This being so, our duty is to "Put... on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14) and "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). That was the mind that then said, Ye can not bear these things now. Can we now? Bold, treacherous, unfounded, you say? Rather arrogant not to. Belligerent resistance flouting demonstrable evidence and intuitive urging (action of the Holy Spirit).
Much that is oppressively obscure or overwrought in Christian theology reflects the insuperable difficulty of justifying God's wisdom and love in the absence of the twin laws of Consequence and Rebirth in which they are embodied. They make clear that each Ego's destiny is the product of all its "nows." Thoughts and deeds may assume far more purposefulness and effectuality with a full appreciation of their value and impact, knowing that there are no chances; that nothing is random; that the being and becoming of each of us is our own responsibility; that causality operates in our lives down to the last jot and tittle; that the mills of the gods grind slowly, and they also grind exceeding fine; that we are to be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect; that He has given us free will to choose our perfection and His Son to light the way and empower us to live like unto Him through the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, which, when sought, will guide us and illumine our minds. Most importantly, we are given time and occasion. Else how could we attain to such a sublime reality?
If we die not to the flesh before we die in the flesh, then we must be born again in the flesh to learn how, that we may be born in spirit and consciously enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). Physical death itself is no key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ is the key. Learning how to die in Christ is learning how to live Christ, to be Christ. Christ was not given to humanity prior to Golgotha. What then of them who preceded him? But for the saints resurrected between consummatum est and Easter morning, are all lost? And if the law was their schoolmaster, teaching them a spiritual grammar, don't they return to school the next year (life) to employ that grammar in higher lessons, eventually graduating from bondage to the flesh's letter to walk with their Teacher in the liberty of the Spirit? And what of those coming after, who fail a single lifespan's death test? What of them? Many Adams continue to eat of the sensual tree with abandon, oblivious to both the consequences of their actions and the existence of the spiritual antidote for the sting of death. What of them? And those righteous by the law, who already have their reward, such as it is. Are they lost? Surely not.
If Christ is our Elder Brother, the firstfruits of them that slept (I Cor 15:23); if we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16- 17); if we are sons and heirs of God through Christ (Gal 4:7); if the works that Christ did, we shall do, and greater works than these shall we do (John 14:12); if we shall know even as we are known (I Cor 13:12); if Paul travails in birth until Christ be formed in us (Gal 4:6-7), until we come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13), until we may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Eph 4:15), in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9); if all these sayings be true, and the Word is true, it is also, and must be, true that the time and opportunity are provided whereby this supreme prospect and promise may be realized. For God "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim 2:4). "For all shall know me, from the least to the greatest" (Heb 8:11), and be "partakers of the divine nature" (II Pet 1:4), and the day star will arise in our hearts (II Pet 1:l9).
God so loves the world, that He has given His only begotten Son to it, that all may come to Him through Christ Jesus. This is His will, and all shall, in time, sooner or later, choose Christ, repudiating all acts and thoughts of self-condemnation. Each, in his good time, wakes and wants to hear Him, learn Him, partake of Him, practice Him, become one with Him. Thank God for the Grace and suffering and Example and Power and Love enabling each soul to become wholly human, holy, complete, Christ perfected. Many "will not endure sound doctrine" (II Tim 4:3). Yet, thank God, will they live long enough to be proof of it. The murdered and the murderer, the idiot and the stillborn, the atheist and the zealot Ä all will be brought to the Light and will choose it for their being.
Humanity need not be stultified and baffled by a careless and causeless creation, by inexplicable happenings. Rather is each created in God to become as Him. Each immortal spirit recapitulates the entire history of human experience: From prelapsarian innocence to the awareness of separateness, to an "Egyptian" captivity to the senses, to a wandering in the wilderness, to a seven-fold initiation in the mysteries of the Christ life (The Washing of the Feet, The Scourging, The Crowning with Thorns, The Bearing of the Cross, The Mystic Death, The Entombment, The Resurrection). Ultimately, we grow into the image and likeness of our Creator. We know this to be true. Now shall this truth, through Christ, make us free
A Quarterly Rosicrucian Online Magazine
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